We have a few tons of minerals and ores from the Asteroid Belt in Pegasus 3. It should reduce the bottleneck a bit, maybe give us some breathing room. Several large rocks are on their way here, and will arrive in a few months. One should be big enough for Vicinius’ heirloom humanity project. Moving some manufacturing to orbit might protect Terra Neuva’s environment – we’ve been given a chance to apply lessons learned too late on Aute.
We left Marcus and his wife to their honeymoon, and AUD1 to work with Speaker. Marak and Adams think this will be a milk run, I’m along only because the Pegasus has limited medical resources if something does go drastically wrong. The wedding, what I could see of it from Containment’s video, was lovely and made me a bit nostalgic for home. Vicinius named one of his nitrogen fixing bacterium for them. Fortunately, I finished the portrait I was working on before Speaker showed up – I used to take acid-free Aute paper for granted, now I only have about ¾ of my sketch pad left and I doubt paper is on anyone’s priority list.
Adams and Marek have been busy with their political plans. The Janus 3 councilor elections will happen while we’re gone. Both have been working on proposals for the new council charter.
Acceleration is much softer than the Janus 3 mission. I think I like microgravity, at least as a change from Terra Nueva. And there is nothing actually trying to kill or eat us out here. There are dangers for the careless or unwary, but not active agency behind them. Without AUD1 and Marcus, it is like the first days on Terra Nueva, or it would be if we didn’t have a small team of asteroid miners with us. They seem happy to get off Terra Nueva, both for the gravity, and the limited tech we can use. Practically back to picks and shovels, Lodestone complained.
Dr. Gala reminded me about overdue charts, training vids, and other administrative barnacles that I can fill the quiet hours with. And I am getting them slowly done. Counselors Kawit and Bahiti are monitoring the mice in project Orpheus. I also have my own projects with me – reviewing the data and video from Grassland to figure out why the large reptiles there merit Claw’s designer virus and my own research on psionics, and particularly psi genetics. Vicinius and I have talked and debated long into the nights about the practicalities and ethics of making sure that what psi we have “breeds true”. Psi Core has preserved some skills. I don’t want my descendants to have to fumble in the dark with things I’ve figure out on my own. Psi skills are not something we can teach with vids or VR.
I’ve also been pondering Wells, the sniper who shot Lyra. He was a troubled man who lost several team-mates on Janus 3. He is in deep-freeze while the Council decides what to do with him. I don’t know what is just, but I do want to talk to the psychiatry team when we get back about whether he could be successfully treated. We are too few to waste a life, even a troubled one. Wells had tamed a minidon. For now Cailean has it and Pteri, while I’m away.
Our first task is getting in touch with Oceana and lobbing a care package to them. We’ve set up another relay, so we’re only out of touch for half their orbit, or so. Cailean mentioned the other aliens that ISP negotiated with on Aute, I wonder if someone picked this system because the radio noise of our civilization will be drowned out by our star for a while, long enough for us to get civilization back on its feet.
Oceana has been wiped clean of life – maybe there’s some traces in the deep ocean vents, but otherwise it is bare. Marak’s been busy talking with them. He wants to set up more permanent mining out here with trade in both directions. They asked us to send a rock with some biological precursors their way – Adams was thrilled to have that project. It distracts him from throwing up when we hit freefall. I should have stocked more anti-nausea meds – my stomachs been doing occasional rolls, but he’s had the worst of it by far. I think he’s run out of solids to throw up, no, out.
In and among the asteroids, we’ve got something weird. Crystal structures. Maybe related to the crystal trees/coral. Maybe related to the black vampire sand. Gregory, our astronomer, has put every sensor we have on them. Vicinus has been trying radio and low power com laser pulses. No response. Even here, the system is full of unexpected life. Mining went well enough. I even got into a vac suit once, well tethered, to set foot on an asteroid. I’ve got a couple of pebbles left over from the mining as curios. There’s plenty of opportunity here, even after stretching our rations to the bone, Lodestone’s mining team has to be practically dragged home. Speaking of which, there’s something odd in Lodestone’s ISP calcium preserving nano – it’s building up in his joints. Could fix it with surgery, but the deposits will come back if we can’t fix the nano. Note to self to flag this to Medical when we get back, see if anyone else is being affected.
Enroute between one patch and another, Marak got a heads-up from the diagnostics. Build-up on the hull. Fine dust, probably from a crystal structure, adhering to the hull. We got it off before it built up. Not related to the black sand. Prion-like. Maybe related to the purple sand? Vicinius has yet another item on his long, long list.
It is beautiful out here, although I miss the gas giants of Aute. The planets of our system are small and rocky. I would have said lifeless, but with the crystals among the asteroids, who knows what Oceana will find deep in its moon, or we will find when we finally get around to exploring the other planets of our system. As we approach Terra Nueva, hold full of metals, it is beginning to feel more like home.